Setback for democracy: Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans in blocking voting rights legislation

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FRIEND GOOD MAN: It is Democracy now!Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

As President Biden marked one year in office with a rare marathon White House press conference on Wednesday, his former Senate colleagues spent hours debating a proposed filibuster amendment that would allow the measure of the right to vote to go ahead with a simple majority. But for the fifth time this session, Republicans again blocked voting rights. Right-wing Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema joined Republicans in defeating the change. Manchin delivered his speech in the Senate while Biden held his press conference – the Joes duel. After the vote, Senate Republicans gathered in the chamber to shake hands with Senator Sinema.

Progressive Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday he would support main challengers Manchin and Sinema. Senator Sanders spoke in the Senate on Wednesday.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Is changing the rules of the Senate a radical idea? Oh my God! This is the first time in history that we are about to do so! Never been done before! Oh, well, really, not quite, no. As all senators know, the rules change quite regularly. Nothing radical there.

Just a few months ago, in order to raise the debt ceiling and prevent our government from defaulting on its borrowing, the rules were changed so that a majority of 50 votes prevailed. We changed the rules, appropriately, and we prevented a default and a massive global depression.

Just a few years ago, my fellow Republicans, who are so adamantly against changing the rules, well, my God, they changed the Senate rules to allow 50 votes to confirm the President’s Supreme Court nominees. Oh my God, how shocking. And they got three conservative Supreme Court justices as a result.

The rules change all the time here. And maybe, just maybe, we might want to change the rules in order to save American democracy.

FRIEND GOOD MAN: Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders speaking on Wednesday during the debate to change the filibuster rules to pass key voting rights legislation. Some Democrats have compared G.O.P.-led voter suppression efforts against racial discrimination under Jim Crow. Meet Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, one of three African Americans in the Senate. His speech closed calls from Democrats.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Those of us who were students of Dr. King – I know we were – often wonder: what would I have done if I had been alive during the civil rights movement? I know we would all like to think that we too would have had only a small fraction, just a fraction, of the courage it took John Lewis to cross that Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Well, for those of us who are fortunate enough to serve in the United States Senate right now, in this moral moment, we don’t have to wonder. God, he faced soldiers on the other side, crossing that bridge. We are talking about a procedural bridge. We don’t have to wonder what we would have done. I argue that what we would have done then, we are doing now.

History is watching us. Our children are counting on us. And I hope that we will have the courage to do what is right for our communities and for our country, the courage to cross that bridge, to do the hard work at this defining moral moment in America for the sake of the communities that have sent here in the first place, for the sake of the planet, for the sake of health, for the sake of jobs, to be able to stand up for the things we care about, the courage to fight for each other. I still pray that we cross that bridge. But if not tonight we will be back again and again and again.

FRIEND GOOD MAN: It was Democratic Senator from Georgia, the Reverend Raphael Warnock, who spoke in the Senate on Wednesday in a debate that unfolded as President Biden held a two-hour press conference marking his first year in office. to be able to.